A Ritual Expansion and Seamless at 20

This edition of MRM’s News Bites features  Papa John's, The James Beard Foundation,  US Foods,  Ritual, The Oneida Group and Crown Brands, Seamless, NRA and NRAEF,  Innovative Foodservice Group and JES Restaurant Equipment, Inc., Hostme, Performance Food Group, Magnolia and TroyGould.

Send news items to Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com.

Starboard Buys Into Papa John's 

Papa John’s International, Inc. entered into a securities purchase agreement with Starboard Value LP  where Starboard is making a $200 million strategic investment with the option to make an additional $50 million investment through March 29. The company plans to use approximately half of the proceeds  to repay debt, with the remaining proceeds providing financial flexibility that enables Papa John’s to invest capital to further advance its five strategic priorities of People, Brand, Value/Product, Technology and Unit Economics. 

In connection with the investment, the Papa John’s Board of Directors is expanding to include two new independent directors, including Jeffrey C. Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Starboard, who has been appointed Chairman of the Papa John’s Board, and Anthony M. Sanfilippo, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. In addition, Papa John’s President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Ritchie has been appointed to the Board. With the addition of the new directors, the Board will comprise nine directors, seven of whom are independent.

“Our agreement with Starboard concludes a comprehensive strategic review conducted over the past five months to better position Papa John’s for growth, improve the Company’s financial performance and serve the best interests of our stakeholders. This transaction provides the Company with financial resources and strong and experienced directors on the Board in order to position the Company for success over the long term. We believe we have found terrific partners to advance Papa John’s strategy, especially given their record of reinvigorating and growing premier restaurant and consumer brand companies,” said Olivia Kirtley, a member of the Special Committee and most recently Chairman of the Papa John’s Board. “Starboard’s investment represents a strong vote of confidence in Papa John’s, our people, our franchisees and the many opportunities we have ahead. We are excited to work with Jeff as our new Chairman and look forward to welcoming Anthony and Steve to the Board.”

Ritchie commented, “Our agreement with Starboard marks an exciting step forward for Papa John’s. I look forward to working with Jeff and Anthony, as well as the rest of our Board and team, to extend our focus on Better to our people, franchisees and customers in new ways, thereby fortifying Papa John’s position as the ‘BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA.’ company.”

Smith added, “Papa John’s has always stood for higher quality pizza, and we believe Papa John’s has a strong foundation, with the best product in the space and a strong franchisee and customer base. We applaud the actions that the Board and management have taken to move the Company forward through a difficult transition. We see tremendous potential for the Company both in the U.S. and internationally. We look forward to providing leadership, sponsorship, and support to instill operational, financial, and corporate governance best practices, and working with the Papa John’s team to develop a disciplined long-term strategic plan while delighting our customers every day.”

JBF's 2019 American Classics Awards

The James Beard Foundation announced the five recipients of its 2019 America's Classics Award, which are given to locally owned restaurants that have timeless appeal and are cherished for quality food reflecting the character of their community. The 2019 honorees join the ranks of over 100 restaurants from across the country that have received the award since the category was introduced in 1998. This year's winners will be celebrated at the annual James Beard Awards Gala on Monday, May 6 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  

“In an industry where longevity is quite an achievement, it is important to honor and celebrate the establishments that have stood the test of time, like the restaurants being recognized as America’s Classics this year,” says Clare Reichenbach, James Beard Foundation CEO. “These restaurants provide not only wonderful culinary experiences, but are important and enduring pillars in their communities.” 

The 2019 James Beard Foundation America’s Classics Award Winners are:

Pho 79  (9941 Hazard Ave., Garden Grove, CA 92843; Owners: Tong Trần and Liễu Trần)

Orange County, California, claims one of the most vibrant Vietnamese-American communities in the country. Pho 79 was founded by Thọ Trần and Liễu Trần who opened in 1982, when it was among the area’s very first restaurants of its kind, introducing Americans to bowls of slippery rice noodles in beefy broth, topped with eye of round steak, brisket, tripe, meatballs, or the restaurant's justifiably legendary oxtails. With chef Lieu Trần in the kitchen, Pho 79 helped pave the way for southern California’s Little Saigon to become the dynamic hub of Vietnamese cuisine it is today. The next generation of the Trần family continues to operate the restaurant, as well as others in the area including Pho 101. The family’s story is as much about intrepid entrepreneurship and excellent cooking as it is about a community that rose from war and displacement to forever change American cuisine. 

Jim’s Steak & Spaghetti House (920 5th Ave, Huntington, WV 25701; Owners: Jimmie Carder, Larry Tweel and Ron Tweel)

Spaghetti is central to West Virginia, a state that in the early 1900s attracted so many Italian immigrants that their homeland set up a consulate there. And since 1945, it’s been the lifeblood of Jim’s Steak & Spaghetti House in Huntington, West Virginia. In fact, most people leave “steak” out of the name when referring to it, according to co-owner and general manager Jimmie Tweel Carder, who along with her two brothers, inherited the restaurant from their father, Jim Tweel. Spaghetti and excellent service are among the tiny luxuries that Jim’s has long offered the Huntington tri-state region but it’s the strawberry pie that draws thousands. In February, Jim’s starts prepping pie shells for the one-week-only slice sale that coincides with Mother’s Day, another tradition with West Virginian roots.

A&A Bake & Double and Roti Shop (1337 Fulton St., Brooklyn, NY 11216; Owners: Noel and Geeta Brown)

The cheap-and-cheerful breakfast is a New York City art form, but few stand out like the doubles at A&A Bake & Double and Roti Shop. The Trinidadian specialty, which consists of an irresistible combination of curried chickpeas layered between two deep-fried flatbreads, costs just $1.50 at the shop. Trinidadian natives Noel and Geeta Brown have been serving trailing line of customers since they opened the business in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in 2002. The Browns recently moved the restaurant down the street into a much larger space, offering customers more seating (and, hopefully, shorter lines). As the neighborhood continues to rapidly gentrify, A&A’s sustained success serves as a delicious reminder of the Bed-Stuy’s rich Caribbean history. 

Sehnert's Bakery & Bieroc Café (312 Norris Ave., McCook, NE 69001; Owners: Matt and Shelly Sehnert)

The bieroc is as essential to the fabric of Nebraska as is Husker football. A savory yeasted pastry, its legacy reaches back to German-speaking Russians who immigrated to the state in the nineteenth century. Sehnert's, in the southwest Nebraska town of McCook, makes a definitive version. The Sehnert family has been baking in the United States since 1897. Walt and Jean Sehnert opened the McCook bakery in 1957, and fourth-generation baker Matt Sehnert and his wife, Shelly, have operated the business since 1991. They provide a place to gather for everyday meals and special events; for live music; and, of course, for the signature bierocs filled with seasoned ground beef and cabbage or sauerkraut.

Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse (1609 17th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009; Owner: Paul Katinas)

Annie’s endures as a nexus for Washington, D.C.’s LGBTQ community. George Katinas, a first-generation Greek-American and U.S. army veteran, opened the restaurant in 1948, and by the early sixties it had earned a reputation as a welcoming space for gay people. It moved to its current location in 1985, and George’s son, Paul Katinas, eventually took over. Through the years, Annie’s has remained a stalwart supporter of LGBTQ causes, among them the Gay Men’s Chorus, Whitman Walker Clinic, Food and Friends and the Pride parade. At Annie’s, the steaks are hefty, the burgers juicy and the cocktails strong, but what really keeps people coming back is the restaurant’s legacy of inclusiveness and respect. 

Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and furthers the Foundation’s mission to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America's food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone. Each award category has an individual committee made up of industry professionals who volunteer their time to oversee the policies, procedures, and selection of judges for their respective Awards program. All James Beard Award winners receive a certificate and a medallion engraved with the James Beard Awards insignia.

US Foods Breaks Ground on Expanded Facility 

US Foods Holding Corp. broke ground  on the expansion of the company’s F. Christiana facility in Marrero, Louisiana, top photo.The investment will nearly triple the size of the current facility to support the company’s continued growth in Louisiana, parts of Mississippi and Alabama. The expansion will increase the facility size from 70,000 square feet to 200,000 square feet and is expected to be fully operational by late 2020.


To celebrate the kick-off of the project, US Foods hosted a groundbreaking ceremony with company leaders, government officials, local US Foods customers and other members of the community earlier today. 

“This is an important day for US Foods as we take the next step to expand our footprint in Louisiana and reaffirm our commitment to our customers and the community,” said Keith Knight, south region president for US Foods. “We would like to thank Louisiana Economic Development, Jefferson Parish and JEDCO for their ongoing support through the many phases of this important investment.”


The expansion will support the company’s ongoing efforts to offer additional products and services to restaurant and foodservice operators in the region and will create additional distribution opportunities across key markets. Highlights of the updated facility include a state-of-the art kitchen and training center for customer product demonstrations and recipe innovation and an interactive technology center where US Foods customers can learn about the company’s industry-leading, web-based business solutions. 

In addition, the facility is designed to meet rigorous LEED Silver certification requirements and will incorporate energy and environmental improvements, such as energy efficient refrigeration systems, energy saving LED lighting, optimized HVAC systems and water-efficient landscaping. The company has also committed to using recycled content furnishings and building materials; implementing waste segregation; and recycling waste generated during demolition and construction.

F. Christiana, a broadline distributor of food and food-related products, was acquired by US Foods in June 2017.

Riutal Expands Internationally

Ritual has expanded internationally into the U.K., Australia and plans for expansion into Europe. Ritual will also be in more than 40 North American cities and aims to more than triple its restaurant count by the end of 2019. Since launching in Toronto in 2014, and in the United States in 2017, Ritual has experienced exponential growth, first crossing over a million orders in less than two years and now processing over a million orders in under two months.

“We are proud of the progress we have made in such a short period of time. Because of our solid business fundamentals, we’re now positioned to rapidly scale our business and move into many more markets this year. We are excited to become a truly global brand,” said Ray Reddy, Co-Founder and CEO of Ritual. “We look forward to bringing the ease of use and accessibility to users as well as offer restaurants a streamlined way to service new and repeat customers all while providing the best possible experience for everyone on our platform.”

Ray Reddy

Ritual provides restaurants with turnkey mobile ordering technology, which gives consumers a convenient solution to discover, order and pick up their meals – specifically for coffee and lunch orders. Using Ritual’s social group ordering feature, Piggyback, over 100,000 teams globally connect and collaborate on lunch and coffee orders and pick up orders for busy teammates. With Piggyback, restaurants are able to leverage existing customers who pick up and bring back orders for teammates, which increases order size up to four times due to social features, ease of use and transparent pricing structure.

Internationally, Ritual is operating in London and Sydney and some of the new North American cities launching in 2019 include Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal and Edmonton in Canada and Portland, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, San Antonio, Austin, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Detroit, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Charlotte, Nashville and Miami in the United States.

To celebrate city launches nationwide, Ritual will be hosting week-long Ritual Food Festivals, the equivalent of Restaurant Week but for takeout restaurants, which allow users to sample and discover the best of their neighborhood at a special price. Ritual ran 10 food festivals at the end of 2018 and is planning on running over 100 in 2019.

Oneida Group Sells Majority of Foodservice Business

The Oneida Group sold the majority of its foodservice business, which markets flatware, dinnerware and barware, to Crown Brands, a distributor of commercial grade smallware, bakeware, cookware, beverageware, and other products to the foodservice industry. The transaction was executed following a comprehensive sales process and closed on January 28, 2019. Terms were not disclosed.

The Oneida Group will continue to sell Anchor Hocking glassware to the foodservice industry and will increase sales support in this channel. The company, which is in the process of moving distribution from Savannah, GA back to Lancaster, OH, also plans to expand plant production capacity to better service and support growth.

The transaction follows The Oneida Group’s recent announcement that the flagship Oneida retail flatware business would return to the company, ending a licensing arrangement that existed since 2009. The company also plans to expand its specialty glass sales to meet growing demand in the wine and spirits industry.

“With our overall financial position continuing to strengthen, we have been exploring strategic initiatives to improve operations and position the company for future growth and success,” said Mark Eichhorn, Chief Executive Officer of The Oneida Group. “This transaction presented a tremendous opportunity for both The Oneida Group and Crown to play to our respective market strengths – enabling The Oneida Group to heighten our focus on re-igniting our retail flatware and glassware business and grow our specialty business-to-business glassware division, while allowing Crown to expand its already robust, industry-leading foodservice product offerings.”

“The brands and product categories associated with this acquisition align with our long-term strategic plan to offer the highest quality, most comprehensive product portfolio to satisfy operator needs in the front of the house, kitchen/food preparation areas and the back of the house from a single source,” said Tony Battaglia, Chief Executive Officer of Crown Brands, LLC.

Seamless Turns 20

To mark its 20th anniversary, Seamless announced a series of giveaways, special offers, and activities to celebrate the milestone throughout the year, culminating with the ultimate dream for any New York foodie: a chance to win 20 years of free Seamless. Each year, millions of New Yorkers use Seamless. 

"Hitting 20 years is an amazing milestone, and it's been incredible to watch just how much Seamless has positively impacted not only diners' lives, but the restaurants and delivery partners we've worked with through the years as well," said Matt Maloney, founder and chief executive officer, Grubhub, which merged with Seamless in 2013. "Seamless pioneered online ordering and delivery and we've been through it all – the good, the bad, the snowstorms, the heatwaves. We're excited to spend this special year giving back to the people of New York."

To celebrate, Seamless is launching a variety of promotions and activities across New York City:

Free Seamless, anyone? Music to any New Yorker's ears, starting February 20, NYC diners can enter to win 20 years of free Seamless.* That's… a lot of free Seamless. And if you're not selected as the lucky winner, don't fret – 20 diners will also win one year of free Seamless as a "consolation." To enter, use the code 20YEARS at checkout when you order from a NYC restaurant using your Seamless account, either online or in app, February 20 – 27. Winners will be announced March 4. 

Seamless <3 NYC. Launched in October 2018, the Seamless "Donate the Change" feature, which allows diners to round their purchases up to the nearest dollar to support a charitable cause or public interest organization, will support NYC Kids RISE. A non-profit organization, NYC Kids RISE aims to make attending and graduating from college and career training more achievable for all NYC public school students—regardless of where they come from or how much their families have in the bank. Through February 28th, Seamless diners can donate to NYC Kids RISE through Donate the Change to fund college scholarships for NYC public school students. Additionally, as a "Made in New York" company as designated by NYC Digital, Seamless will be building a catering search page that highlights locally-owned restaurants available for craft services for all NYC productions.

Surrounded by Seamless. If you've taken a taxi, ridden the subway, or walked the streets of New York, you've probably seen one of our advertisements and expect to see more! In classic Seamless style, there will be new ads popping up around the city and TV and digital campaigns reflecting how the company has delivered through it all. Done through animation, this new campaign will showcase how Seamless has "fueled the city" over the years with easter eggs bringing to life some of New Yorker's favorite moments.

Here are a few fun facts to point out just how much Seamless has accomplished in 20 years:

  • Seamless has driven billions in food sales to local restaurants and has provided over a billion dollars in tips to drivers as well.
  • Seamless delivery partners have driven, biked, and walked enough miles to cover the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade route over 32 million times, run the New York City Marathon over 3 million times, and cover NYC's subway tracks over 95,000 times.
  • Seamless has delivered to some of the city's most iconic buildings, including Carnegie Hall, Rockefeller Center, Yankee Stadium, Empire State Building, New York Stock Exchange, New York City Library, Electric Lady Studio, Radio City Music Hall, and many (many!) others.

NRA and NRAEF Announce 2019 Board Officers

The National Restaurant Association and its Educational Foundation d their new slates of board officers and directors.

Joe Essa, President and CEO of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide Inc., will serve as Chair of the National Restaurant Association, and Geoff Hill, Managing Director of Roark Capital Group, will serve as Chair of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of both the National Restaurant Association and the Educational Foundation, said the organization's new board officers would provide the critical leadership necessary to ensure the restaurant industry's continued growth and success.

"This year's Chairs, Joe Essa and Geoff Hill, bring years of experience and passion for our industry to their new roles," she said. "Their first-hand knowledge and dedication will provide valuable insights that will help the Association and Foundation navigate the challenges our industry faces."

In addition to Essa, Vice Chair Melvin Rodrigue, President and CEO of Galatoire's Restaurants, and Treasurer Brian E. Casey, President of Oak Hill Tavern and the Company Picnic Company, will lead the Restaurant Association's board.

Foundation officers supporting Hill are Vice Chair Stan Harris, President and CEO of the Louisiana Restaurant Association, and Treasurer Susan Adzick, Senior Vice President of Sales and Strategic Relationships at McLane Foodservice Inc.

Each of the officers will serve out a one-year term. The following is the list of 2019 board officers for the National Restaurant Association and the Educational Foundation:

Chair: Joe Essa is President and CEO of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, where he leads the company's initiatives to grow its casual-restaurant and consumer-products businesses. Before that, he served as Vice President of Operations at TOSCORP, a New York City-based, fine-dining Italian restaurant group. Essa also founded restaurant companies in North Carolina and Connecticut. He is a Boston College graduate, with a bachelor of science in accounting and finance, and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Vice Chair: Melvin Rodrigue is President and CEO of Galatoire's Restaurants, located in New Orleans. He has dedicated his career to cultivating the traditions and experiences of one of America's grandest fine dining institutions, Galatoire's, in business since 1905, and a showcase for New Orleans as a world-class-dining destination. Under his leadership, Galatoire's iconic, flagship restaurant was named the James Beard Foundation's Most Outstanding Restaurant in the United States in 2005. Rodrigue also serves as President of New Orleans' Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He is a past President of the Louisiana Restaurant Association as well as a Director of the New Orleans CVB Board.

Treasurer: Brian E. Casey is President and Owner of North Kingstown, R.I.-based Oak Hill Tavern and the Company Picnic Company. A 35-year hospitality industry veteran and lifelong resident of Rhode Island, he has deep roots in his local community. He was Chairman of the Rhode Island Hospitality Association, and in 2013 named their Restaurateur of the Year and Caterer of the Year in 2008. A graduate of Rhode Island College, he earned a bachelor of science degree in political science.

The Restaurant Association also added several new members to the board. The newly elected directors include:

  • Brad Anderson, President of Anderson Management Group, Billings, Mont.
  • Jean-Marie Clement, Vice President of Food and Beverage, Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
  • John Teza, Director of NRD Capital Management, Atlanta
  • Jett Mehta, President and CEO of Indus Hospitality Group, Rochester, N.Y.
  • Don Balfour, Vice President of Waffle House Inc., Norcross, Ga.
  • John Cywinski, President of Applebee's Grill & Bar, Glendale, Calif.
  • Dan Rowe, CEO of Fransmart, Alexandria, Va.

National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation

Chair: Geoff Hill is Managing Director of Roark Capital Group, which owns 25 restaurant companies covering 23,000 locations worldwide. He is involved in sourcing activity for franchise and multiunit acquisitions as well as portfolio management for several of Roark's Restaurant investments. Previously, Hill was President of Cinnabon, a Roark-owned company. He attended Cornell University's Hotel and Restaurant School, and started his hospitality career at the Bristol Hotel Company.

Vice Chair: Stan Harris is President and CEO of the Louisiana Restaurant Association. Before that, Harris spent 27 years with TJM Restaurant Management, which was the largest franchisee of Ruth's Chris Steak House, including stints as President and CEO of the firm. In 2007, he became CEO of the Forefront Group, North America's largest supplier of golf accessories. Most recently, Harris was managing partner of The H Group, a management advisory firm focused on business-process improvement and team development, serving family businesses and entrepreneurs. He is a past President of the Council for State Restaurant Associations and Director on the New Orleans CVB Board. Harris graduated from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Treasurer: Susan Adzick is Senior Vice President of Sales and Strategic Relationships for the McLane Company's foodservice division. She is responsible for $15 billion a year in revenue and provides strategic direction business development and customer relationship management for 34 restaurant brand customers. She also is active in the foodservice industry, serving as 2018 Chair of the Women's Foodservice Forum, as a National Restaurant Association board member, and on the Restaurant Leadership Conference's Advisory Council and Executive Committee. She started her foodservice career with PepsiCo Food Systems. She received her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

In addition to naming its new board officers, the Educational Foundation also introduced its new board members. They include:

  • Brett Ladd, CEO of Sodexo Government, Gaithersburg, Md.
  • Derek Small, Director of Culinary Training for Troop Café, Milwaukee
  • Joel Neuman, Vice President of Legal and Industry Affairs, Coca-Cola Foodservice, Atlanta
  • Greg Barber, Vice President of Global Business Development, PepsiCo, White Plains, N.Y.
  • James Fripp, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for Yum! Brands Inc., Plano, Texas

The board is composed of about 70 voting directors, who represent every facet of the U.S. restaurant and foodservice industry. They provide strategic guidance to the Association as it seeks to advance and protect the interests of the restaurant and foodservice industry.

IFG Acquires JES

Innovative Foodservice Group (IFG), formerly known as BJ Beltram, Inc., acquired JES Restaurant Equipment, Inc. Founded in 2008 by Vivian and Eric Smith and based in Greenwood, SC, JES sells equipment, supplies, furniture and smallwares to the foodservice industry. 

Vivian Smith, President of JES Restaurant Equipment stated, "we are thrilled to join the IFG team and we see that this partnership will generate even faster growth with access to a broader range of competitively priced products and distribution capabilities nationwide."

The JES purchase represents IFG's second acquisition as a Trivest Partners portfolio company, and the company intends to continue to pursue additional add-on opportunities to build scale and expand geographies.

Hostme Wins Award

Hostme won Best Mobile App’s (BMA) award in its “Best Designed Mobile App” category. BMA hosts awards in several categories for highly popular mobile applications that seek to capture increasingly valuable screen space on millions of consumers’ mobile phones.


“Our app addresses the overall dining experience from both, the diner’s and the restaurant owner’s perspective,” said Hostme CEO & Co-Founder Evgeny Popov. “It eliminates pain points for diners and owners alike.”

The Hostme app helps restaurants seat more and spend less through its advanced 24/7 reservation and table management software. It streamlines front-of-the-house operations, eliminates costly no-shows, boosts return business, and increases staff satisfaction. It provides email and SMS notifications for restaurants and their customers, including facilitating chat capabilities with customers to keep them in the loop on their reservation or waitlist status. Restaurants can also send customers promotions to fill more seats during slow times. More significantly, it makes operations accessible via any mobile device — in nine different languages.

BMA prides itself on a non-biased process in selecting the best mobile app award winners via a committee of highly experienced app designers and developers. These leaders of the industry are dedicated to uncovering the next big player in mobile applications. BMA covers all markets, from Android, iPhone, Blackberry, and Windows Phone to wearables like Android and Apple Watch, to ensure every app gets a chance to be considered among the best there is, regardless of operating system.

PFG Adds to the Top

Performance Food Group Company  named Craig Hoskins to the role of President & CEO of the Foodservice segment and Executive Vice President of PFG, reporting to George Holm, PFG’s Chairman, President & CEO.

“Craig is an industry expert with nearly three decades of distribution experience. His background in senior commercial and operating roles will be integral to our continued success as we grow the business and execute on our long-term strategic goals,” said Mr. Holm.

Hoskins was named President & CEO of PFG Customized Distribution and a Senior Vice President of PFG in January 2012 after serving as President & COO of Customized Distribution. He assumed additional responsibility for Performance Foodservice’s sales and marketing in January 2018 and has served in an interim role as President & CEO of Performance Foodservice since August of 2018. Hoskins joined PFG in 2008 following its merger with Vistar Corporation where he progressed through successive roles of increasing responsibility in sales and marketing, merchandising/purchasing, and operations.

Magnolia Names CEO

Magnolia appointed Tim Brown as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Former CEO and Co-Founder, Pascal Mangold, will continue to serve on the Board of Directors.

Brown brings more than two decades of experience in the marketing technology industry as both a corporate executive and investor.  He has served as CEO of website testing and personalization category leaders Maxymiser and Touch Clarity.

Tim Brown

Under Brown’s leadership, Magnolia will advance its goal to help marketers deliver a superior customer experience at speed.  

According to Brown, “The bottom-line is that today’s customer experience practitioners have had enough of their legacy content management systems. They’re tired of the rising costs, the complex integration challenges, and the painfully slow go-live times required for even the most basic web project. They’re searching for a better way.” 

“This provides a fantastic opportunity for Magnolia and our strong partner network,” adds Brown. “We’re offering a unique blend of power, speed, and connectivity that surpasses other content management systems on the market in on-prem, cloud, and headless configurations. We strive to meet the needs of digital-savvy customer experience practitioners with ambition but who don’t possess the vast resources and budget required to support many legacy platforms.” 

Former CEO  Mangold agrees, “Since founding the company, we’ve made meaningful strides towards building a content management system that marketers can truly trust. With that said, I couldn’t be more proud of everything we’ve accomplished to date.” 

“Tim is the right person to build on this momentum,” explains Mangold. “He has a proven track record of scaling marketing technology companies, like Magnolia, into category leaders. I am looking forward to working with him in his new role as CEO.”

As CEO, Brown will be focused on driving global growth for the digital experience solution provider, which includes Magnolia 6, the latest version of the company’s flagship product. Purpose-built to help marketers deliver a better customer experience faster, the product’s new features include a re-designed user interface, intelligent contextual search, automated tagging, and faster content modeling functionalities. 

MRM Columnist Promoted

Los Angeles business law firm TroyGould  announced it has elevated three of its attorneys—MRM legal columnist Pooja NairJennifer Wang and Calvin Cheng—to Member. 

"It's a pleasure to welcome Pooja, Jennifer and Calvin into the practice as Members," said firm Managing Member Sanford Hillsberg. "All three are leaders in their own right and have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the practice of law and our clients."    

Pooja Nair

Nair, a  Super Lawyers Rising Star, is a seasoned business litigator. Nair specializes in working with clients in the food and beverage industry and with start-ups in the technology and innovation space.  She writes a monthly column for Modern Restaurant Management on the legal developments affecting the restaurant industry.  Nair also writes for top media outlets including Los Angeles Daily JournalEater, California Lawyer and Bloomberg BNA. Before joining TroyGould, Nair worked at the Los Angeles office of Foley & Lardner.  She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and graduated magna cum laude from UC San Diego with a BA in History and Political Science.  Nair is active in the Los Angeles community and serves on  the Harvard Club of Southern California Board of Directors and is the chair of the Young Professionals Advisory Board of the Los Angeles Music and Arts School.

Calvin Z. Cheng has experience providing corporate and securities counsel to emerging growth middle-market and public companies, working with executives in tech, blockchain, digital media, life sciences and more. Cheng, who is bilingual, advises investors and acquirers on cross-border transactions, having completed deals in the U.S., China and the EU. Before joining the firm, he practiced in the Global Mergers & Acquisitions Practice of White & Case LLP and as an associate at Morrison & Foerster's Beijing and Los Angeles' offices. He received his J.D. from the UCLA School of Law and graduated with honors from UC Berkeley. 

Jennifer C. Wang's practice focuses on helping clients achieve successful results in complex business disputes.  This includes handling unfair competition, securities fraud, and real estate litigation, as well as advising clients about their employment and trade secret concerns.  Before joining TroyGould, Wang defended real estate professionals and attorneys in professional liability actions at Thompson Coe's Los Angeles office.  Wang graduated from UC Davis phi beta kappa, with a BA in French and Political Science, and received her J.D. from the UCLA School of Law.